Tell us about you and Bay Living and Garden?
I had spent around 30 years working as a landscape gardener and it had started to take its physical toll. I really loved working with plants and so I had to think of another way I could continue to do that. I started Bay Living and Garden almost 4 years ago, with the help of my partner as well as my sister, Maria. They both bring different skills and experience to the business.
We offer beautiful homewares, pots of all sizes and of course, stunning plants. With my horticultural background, I have suppliers and growers all over the state and I hand pick each of the plants for the store.
If someone came into your store who knew nothing about plants, what would you tell them?
Start out with beginners’ plants like Devils Ivy, Mother in Laws Tongue and Zanzibar Gem, and keep your hands off the watering can! These are low maintenance and super easy to care for. Staring with these will establish a bit of confidence to then take on other varieties.
My other tip would be that picking the right plant for the right location is key! If someone is looking at a plant in the store that I know won’t grow where they are looking to place it, I’ll tell them they will kill it! Chat with us about the conditions you are looking to place a plant and we can help point out an option that will thrive.
What did you learn about your business going through covid? What did you learn moving forward?
Having good local support is so important! We were lucky to have had a year to build a local customer base before covid hit, because they continued to support us through the lockdowns and now at the other end.
We took advantage of social media to continue to be able to reach our followers and the make sales while we were in lockdown. It was great to have that option, but it was a lot more work than simply opening the store and having people free to browse.
It’s been so good to be able to re-open and welcome people again, but I do feel like it’s more challenging to make sales on this other side of covid. I’m always looking to wow our customers with something new and exciting.
What is the best business tip for someone thinking of starting a retail business?
To be honest, real and not scared to share your love and knowledge for your products. I’d also say it’s important to be vibrant and provide a happy in store environment.
What do you like doing during your down time?
I’m a people lover, so I usually surround myself with family or friends. I also love a drink, a laugh and good food, so I’m often hosting a dinner party or enjoying a meal out.
Shout out some of your favourite PS businesses? Where do you find yourself eating and shopping here in Port Stephens?
Sunset and Vine for lunch or dinner is fabulous. As I said, I love to go out for dinner and I really enjoy Rick Steins at Bannisters, The Anchorage, Shoal Bay Country Club, Zenith, The Buoys as well as Café Kin and Little Nel.
As for shopping, I have to say our lovely neighbours, Burbridge and Burke and Entice You for interesting homewares and gifts and Cameron Stewart for the most comfortable shoes.
What’s the best thing about operating your business in PS?
It’s a friendly, small community and you really get to bond with your customers. We have a blast! I am known to have a dance out on the footpath and drink on a Friday afternoon, chatting with customers and passers by.
It’s a beautiful community with a giving, generous spirit. The team of volunteers that take care of the gardens here in town are incredible as are the different businesses and charities that come together to support causes like the recent QLD floods.
If you weren’t running Bay Living and Garden, what would you be doing?
Laying on the lounge! Haha.
112 Magnus St, Nelson Bay NSW 2315